Song of the Week: “Love Buzz” by Shocking Blue

by Douglas Cowie on 23 November 2018

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Love Buzz” by Shocking Blue:

Kurt Cobain had a good ear for the cover version, often from obscure and/or little-known sources. Through Nirvana I learned about The Vaselines and The Meat Puppets, for just two examples. Because I’m a nerd who reads liner notes and song credits, I knew that “Love Buzz”, the fifth song on Bleach, wasn’t a Cobain-penned song, but I’d never actually heard the original until this week, when it buzzed in from 1969 and out of the speakers while I was listening to the radio.

I almost held my breath listening to it. The thing that struck me most was all the space–Shocking Blue are not afraid to use silence as part of their sonic palate, and it creates a serious tension that Nirvana’s cover version replaces with the big Melvins-y guitars. I really like the Nirvana version: it’s creepy and sleazy and big Melvins-y guitars light my fire. But Shocking Blue create a different kind of vibe–tense, longing where Nirvana is creepy, and building its set of psychedelic guitar sounds into a frenzied groove in that middle section. Listening to it feels like listening to the exact Venn diagram overlap of Jefferson Airplane and The Cramps.

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Tumbling Dice” by The Rolling Stones:

“Tumbling Dice” might be my favorite Rolling Stones song, though why bother having a favorite Rolling Stones song? There’s too many great ones. Anyway, it’s one of the ones that I really like a whole bunch, yeah? So but anyway I was very happy to find this essay by Bill Janovitz earlier this week. Take some time to give it a read; Janovitz follows the song from its origins in “Good Time Woman” to its completion, and sets it in early 1970s context, and beyond.

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Song of the Week: “Back Stabbers” by The O’Jays

by Douglas Cowie on 9 November 2018

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Back Stabbers” by The O’Jays:

A couple of things I’ve been rereading and teaching recently mention “Back Stabbers” by The O’Jays, which was a huge hit back in 1972, though in each case, the song is positioned in relation to other, more well known songs from the same era (“Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, “Superfly”, “Living for the City”…). Somehow “Back Stabbers” holds a position of great song that everybody mentions, but nobody talks about in depth in the same way they do those other songs. I guess I’m not really doing anything different here, but I think we ought to all listen to “Back Stabbers” more than we do. We should all be wearing suits like the one Don Cornelius is sporting here more often, too.

 

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Caravan” by Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus and Max Roach:

“Caravan” was written by trombonist Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington, and has been performed and recorded a billion times (give or take) since the first recording in 1936. This version gives you a chance to hear three great musicians across two generations, including Duke Ellington himself, breathing their own life into the song. I really like Duke’s playing on this one, and it’s kind of a marvel to hear a song’s composer playing a song he’s been playing for almost thirty years as though it’s brand-new fresh.

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